Raising a Child with Autism
An autism diagnosis can be especially challenging for parents. However, this condition is completely manageable, and with the right support and care, kids with autism grow up to live full, happy lives. In this post, we’ve put together some key steps for parents of children on the spectrum.
Become an Autism Expert
Whether your child has developmental delays or autism spectrum disorder (AUD), the best thing you can do is start educating yourself immediately. The more you know about this condition, the better equipped you will be to make choices about treatment, schooling, and parenting style. There is plenty of information and misinformation online. When you’re researching autism, be sure that you are consuming articles from credible, peer-reviewed sources, not mommy blogs or Facebook groups.
Additionally, strive to become an expert on your child: their needs, triggers, behaviors, nonverbal communications, strengths, and struggles. This will be important when you begin the next step of parenting on the spectrum, which is to…
Get Professional Help for Autism
Waiting for a diagnosis can result in the loss of valuable time. When your child is developing, each milestone is crucial. The sooner you seek help, the more likely that treatment will be successful. Plenty of approaches are available, and accredited facilities can help you to identify a treatment plan which will work best for your child. Don’t delay – research shows that early intervention is the most effective way to minimize autism symptoms later in life.
Accept Your Child as They Are
Your child is a wonderful person and totally unique individual, not a project. Try not to get frustrated with them or compare them to other kids; instead, embrace their quirks and love them just as they are, even when times are tough. Unconditional acceptance is required for any child to thrive, especially ones on the spectrum.
Kids with autism may struggle to implement new techniques in different environments; you can help them to do so by providing structure in their daily lives. Many parents have found great success in consistency. Talk to your child’s teachers and therapists, so that you can work on implementing what they’re doing. Practice reacting to challenging behaviors in a consistent way, and stick to a schedule whenever possible. As long as you’re creating a safe, reliable environment, your child will feel supported.
Be Mindful of Sensory Overload
Many kids on the spectrum deal with sensory sensitivities. This means that they are more (or less) affected by sounds, smells, tastes, light, and touches. They may become upset by certain fabrics, songs, or bright lights – it’s important to keep track of these reactions throughout the course of your child’s life. With time, you can figure out which of these stimuli are triggers for disruptive behaviors and which are soothing.
If you’re a parent of a child with autism, we encourage you to do one thing above all else: find support. Your life is demanding, and as a result, you may feel more stressed or anxious than the average parent. This is why self-care and outside help are extremely important.
ASD support groups can help you to share stories and techniques with other parents of children on the spectrum.
Individual, family, or marital counseling can also be helpful for the other members of your household.
Self-care is an often-overlooked need for parents. Whether you choose to take a bath or read a book, be sure you’re taking time out of your day to relax alone. This allows you to recharge so that you’re ready for the next day (and able to avoid burnout).
Autism Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
At Pine Grove, we provide outpatient services for people with autism, including:
- Behavioral therapy with a licensed clinical psychologist,
- Individual and family therapy,
- Medication management from a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist,
- Assessment from a team of licensed clinical psychologists, and
- Identification and management of co-occurring disorders.
For more information about how we can help your family, please contact our admissions team.